The Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) is an amateur Irish and international cultural and sporting organisation focused primarily on promoting Gaelic games, which include the traditional Irish sports of hurling, camogie, Gaelic football, handball and rounders. The GAA also promotes Irish music and dance, and the Irish language.
It has more than 1 million members worldwide. Gaelic football and hurling are the most popular activities promoted by the organisation, and the most popular sports in the Republic of Ireland in terms of attendances. Gaelic football is also the largest participation sport in Northern Ireland.
The women’s version of these games, ladies’ Gaelic football and camogie, are organised by the independent but closely-linked Ladies’ Gaelic Football Association and the Camogie Association of Ireland respectively.
Since its foundation in the late 19th century, the association has grown to become a major influence in Irish sporting and cultural life with considerable reach into communities throughout Ireland and among the Irish diaspora.
The following goals were set out by the GAA upon its fondation
1.To foster and promote native Irish pastimes
2.To open athletics to all social classes
3.To aid in the establishment of hurling and football clubs which would organise matches between counties
Gaelic football commonly referred to as “football” or “Gaelic”, is a form of football played mainly in Ireland, but also across the world. It is, together with hurling, one of the two most popular spectator sports in Ireland.
Hurling is an outdoor team sport of ancient Gaelic origin, and played with sticks called hurleys and a ball called a sliotar. The game has prehistoric origins, has been played for at least 3,000 years, and is thought to be the world’s fastest field team sport in terms of game play. There is a similar game for women called camogie (camógaíocht). It shares a common Gaelic root with the sport of shinty (camanachd) which is played predominantly in Scotland.
Brief run down
Recent rule changes
Link to full rulebook
Foundation of the Association
When Michael Cusack moved to Dublin, in 1877, to open his academy preparing Irish students for the Civil Service examinations, sport throughout Ireland was the preserve of the middle and ascended classes.
Within Cusack’s academy sport was central with students who were encouraged to participate in rugby, cricket, rowing and weight-throwing.
In the early 1880’s Cusack turned his attentions to indigenous Irish sports. In 1882 he attended the first meeting of the Dublin Hurling Club, formed ‘for the purpose of taking steps to re-establish the national game of hurling’.
The weekly games of hurling, in the Phoenix Park, became so popular that, in 1883, Cusack had sufficient numbers to found ‘Cusack’s Academy Hurling Club’ which, in turn, led to the establishment of the Metropolitan Hurling Club.
On Easter Monday 1884 the Metropolitans played Killiomor, in Galway. The game had to be stopped on numerous occasions as the two teams were playing to different rules.
It was this clash of styles that convinced Cusack that not only did the rules of the games need to be standardised but that a body must be established to govern Irish sports.
Cusack was also a journalist and he used the nationalist press of the day to further his cause for the creation of a body to organise and govern athletics in Ireland.
On October 11 1884 an article, written by Cusack, called ‘A word about Irish Athletics’ appeared in the United Ireland and The Irishman. These articles were supported a week later by a letter from Maurice Davin, one of three Tipperary brothers, who had dominated athletics for over a decade and who gave his full support to the October 11 articles.
A week later Cusack submitted a signed letter to both papers announcing that a meeting would take place in Hayes’s Commercial Hotel, Thurles on November 1 1884.
On this historic date Cusack convened the first meeting of the ‘Gaelic Athletic Association for the Preservation and Cultivation of national Pastimes’. Maurice Davin was elected President, Cusack, Wyse-Power and McKay were elected Secretaries and it was agreed that Archbishop Croke, Charles Stewart Parnell and Michael Davitt would be asked to become Patrons.
From that initial, subdued first meeting grew the Association we know today.
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